The Coast News Group
Starbucks workers at the Leucadia Boulevard and Interstate 5 store recently won union representation. Stock photo
Starbucks workers at the Leucadia Boulevard and Interstate 5 store recently won union representation. Stock photo

Leucadia Starbucks workers first in county to win unionization

ENCINITAS — After waiting over a month, workers of a Leucadia Starbucks won union representation on May 22, becoming the 24th store to unionize in California and the first in San Diego County.

Employees at a Starbucks location along Leucadia Boulevard near Interstate 5 submitted a letter to the National Labor Relations Board on April 12 seeking to unionize with Starbucks Workers United.

The request was approved following a 21-2 vote, according to a release.

The letter outlined the store’s reported understaffed conditions due to corporate labor models. Due to these practices, workers claimed they experienced health and safety code violations and harassment from customers. The staff has also had to miss state-mandated breaks because there is not enough other staff to keep the store open.

When the employees reached out to management, they were allegedly told to work harder and have a better attitude about the situation. In addition, many workers reportedly faced disciplinary action for directing customers, angry about issues caused by the staff shortage, to the managers.

“We are not anti-Starbucks. We are Starbucks,” said Shea Kaplan, a partner of over six years and organizer at the Encinitas location. “We are the face of this company, and we are the ones who earn for this company. We see daily what is needed for our store to be successful. Joining the union is about getting what we need to do our jobs right when we are not receiving that aid from the company itself.”

The staff’s goal of joining the Workers United Union was to increase the store’s labor allotment to have a safe and reasonable amount of people working to create a clean and healthy environment; to lift the restrictions on the minimum hours worked and weekend hours, and to raise wages to align with current inflation models.

When the vote came out late last week, workers were overjoyed at the result and are now part of a union to voice their needs better.

“It feels amazing to see what we’ve been working so hard for come to fruition. We feel like we’re finally getting our own voice,” said Alina Stangeland and Denika Brown, baristas and organizers at the Leucadia and I-5 store.

The Starbucks Workers United release states, “Starbucks has launched a ruthless union-busting campaign that includes firing over 200 union leaders nationwide and shuttering union stores. In addition, at least eleven union leaders in the Golden State have been fired in retaliation for their organizing activity, and more have been forced out of the company.”

The National Labor Relations Board has issued 80 official complaints against the company, encompassing over 1,400 violations of federal labor law.

In early March, Judge Michael A. Rosas, a federal administrative law judge at the National Labor Relations Board, ruled that Starbucks committed “egregious and widespread” violations of federal law in its campaign to halt unions, “ordering the company to give back pay and damages to workers who launched national organizing efforts,” according to The Hill.

Rosas further ordered Starbucks to cease and desist from several unlawful actions, including promising employees increased benefits if they did not join a union, engaging in surveillance by photographing employees wearing union pins, and prohibiting employees from talking about their wages, per The Hill.

Starbucks Workers United is a union drive that has allegedly formed several new unions in the past 12 months. SWU claims over 308 Starbucks stores in 42 states, and the District of Columbia has successfully unionized.